The Barnes Firm

How A Concussion Changed Sports

How A Concussion Changed Sports

SAN FRANCISCO – Brain injuries, like most injuries, are a part of life. They occur in daily accidents like car crashes and common falls but sports have thrust the word ‘concussion’ into the daily conversation.

Recent advancements in technology and studies of former athletes are highlighting just how devastating concussions can be to a person’s overall health and life expectancy. The bottom line is, what we’re learning today will change sports forever – and possibly the way brain injuries are viewed in any type of accident.

A Bay Area brain injury attorney at The Barnes Firm says changes have already begun to take shape – in just about every aspect of the injury.

“Just ten years ago, athletes were commonly told to ‘walk it off’ or that they just ‘got the wind knocked out’ of them,” Landon Vivia, a Bay Area brain injury attorney said. “Today, concussions are taken very seriously – both on and off the field.”

Currently, lawmakers are honing their policies on sports. Most states have recently passed laws which mandate some sort of ‘concussion protocol’ for high school sports. However, many of these laws are loosely enforced and safety advocates argue that they don’t do enough to protect people from these debilitating injuries.

Each year, several students die from sports-related injuries – and they usually involve brain injuries.

“Our biggest concern about concussions is that they aren’t just happening on the football field,” Vivian said. “The majority of these injuries are occurring in every day accidents but many people don’t know enough about them and they decide to avoid the doctor when they really should be under the same concussion protocols as athletes.”

Money, as usual, is a sticking-point when it comes to recovering from a concussion. Many public schools face strict budget constraints and cannot afford new books, so there’s little room for more expensive upgrades in sports equipment or head protection.

The good news is that other countries have found ways to protect students.

Unlike the United States, each sport has individually tackled the concussion issue on their own in Scotland, issuing protocols and guidelines aimed to protect amateur athletes – even removing them from the game at the first suspicion of the injury.

“It took huge and expensive class-action lawsuits for some American sports to simply admit that concussions exist,” Vivian said. “And many other sports still haven’t put together quality guidelines for student athletes.”

U.S. Soccer just recently developed concussion protocols and installed new safety rules – including a ban on ‘heading’ for children under the age of 13.

The protocols and rule changes only came after 15 months of litigation.

“Unfortunately, it can sometimes take a hard-fought and emotional lawsuit to spark changes,” Vivian said.

And these changes are slowly making their way into state and federal policies. As we continue to learn about the effects of concussions, it becomes more apparent that sports leagues, policymakers, parents, and doctors must get on the same page to preserve the health, safety and well-being of Americans – not just athletes or students – but all of those who have suffered a brain injury.

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